Tobacco is sacred plant for First Nations. Tobacco is a plant which allows special communion and communication with the spiritual world. It is an offering which pleases the ancestors, a medium by which we testify of our gratitude for life and the beauty of the world, and it offers our spirit a special inspiration to hear Divine will in us. Tobacco was even sometimes used as a medicine for certain health problems. Tobacco originally came from the Americas.
Westerners have no idea of what they are doing when they light a cigarette. By misusing a sacred sacrament, and tobacco is exactly what that is for traditional Native Americans, they harm their spirit and body. This is typical of the misuse of all sacred substances. When a “teaching plant” as we call these special plants that can alter ordinary perception and lead to superior consciousness, is misused, it has an opposite, perverse effect. The spiritual energy cannot release itself, because the personal gratification intention with which the plant is used will turn against the person and cause a decrease of vital energy as well as slow poisoning, which can eventually lead to disease and death. Furthermore, Westerners, by their thirst for profit, have filled tobacco with chemicals and by-products to increase certain cosmetic, addictive and commercial qualities. To traditional philosophy this is blasphemous. If they could spend more time listening to our wisdom, which persists even today, we would not witness thousands of persons suffering from a plant which, properly used, could lead them towards a better understanding of spirit, spiritual community and unity with nature.
Here a question found in the comments that deserves an answer.
How can we honourably and respectfully use tobacco in their current presentation of the cigarette and cigar?
It happens that I have neither time nor the leave to bring out the sacred pipe and do the whole ritual and yet want to feel the peace of the sacred tobacco and receive the messages that tobacco allows. So, I take sacred tobacco (I grow my own tobacco the old traditional variety of our ancestors mixed with other special herbs) and rolling paper. I purify with Chiiyaam and I roll a cigarette. I light and I offer one puff to the north, a puff to the east, a puff to the south, a puff to the west, one to the earth and one to the sky. I purify myself by blowing smoke in my hand and bringing it to my head and then to my heart. Then I smoke and offer my prayers to the Creator and remain a few minutes in meditation. That does not make the same intense connection that the pipe offers but it’s fast and simple and allows me a few minutes of communion with nature and inspiration. Hoping that answers your question.